Learning is a continuous process. It leads to the development of a person into a better professional which further contributes to his growth as a human being. Learning can be formal as well as informal. One can go to college and learn in a classroom or observe something on the road and thus learn from practical life — either way, it all adds up to the body of knowledge, skills and attitudes that we accumulate in life. There’s a saying – “the day you stop learning, you stop growing”. Thus, anybody who wants to grow must keep on accumulating knowledge both formally and informally.

This is particularly true in today’s world with technological and environmental changes making acquired knowledge redundant rapidly and forcing the executives to acquire newer skills and abilities. Some of the most sought after executive education courses at present are in the evolving disciplines like big data analytics, deep learning and artificial intelligence.

Executive Education is formal learning specifically designed for the working executives who cannot afford to invest time in a regular course. Traditionally known as distance learning or part time courses, executive education has gone through a sea change and using state-of-the-art technology, online mode of delivery is fast emerging as the preferred choice of executives around the globe.

Presented below are some of the distinctive features of the contemporary online executive education that make it very attractive for working executives:

Anytime anywhere learning: It is a flexible option that allows one to learn anytime and from any location. Thanks to the digital revolution, one now only has to log on to a virtual classroom from any part of the world. In case a session is missed due to some professional or personal exigency, an option of no problem-archives will be made available.

Self paced learning: Another type of courses that are redefining past paradigms is the self-paced learning modules. These are online courses where anyone can learn without an instructor, at their own convenience. However, in the absence of a facilitator and any kind of timelines, the onus of learning and completing the course rests solely with the learner. This one is certainly for the self driven and highly motivated individuals.

Hybrid programmes: These are models that combine online learning with physical classroom sessions. Here one does most of the course through the online mode but a portion of it is done on the campus. This way, working professionals get the feel of being present in the physical classroom in an institute, thus enabling their interaction with teachers and fellow students in person. This small capsule also offers a break from daily routine for them.

Cost effective learning: These courses are generally low priced and affordable, thus not being a big burden on the pocket. All major banks or finance companies generally offer attractive educational loans on big ticket programmes.

Global learning: These courses bring global learning from top institutions from around the world to one’s desktop or laptop. All major US universities and B-schools have local tie-ups or chapters to impart executive education in India. It is a big market for them and a great opportunity for Indian working executives.

As mentioned earlier, executive education is being offered in a variety of ways nowadays in the form of distance learning, online learning, weekend courses and in a combination of all these, among others. Effective dissemination of knowledge is taking place and working people are able to learn as per their convenience and acquire certifications and diplomas that in turn help them in career growth. There are also large corporation houses that offer such programmes to their executives as incentives to help them grow within the organisation. This works as a good retention strategy.

Future of executive education is exciting like never before as technology is changing all past paradigms. Business management schools today should be one of the major providers of executive education. They need to rethink their strategy and start focusing on the area as an important piece of their total offering to the society. The faculty members in B-schools should strive to identify the upcoming skill requirements of corporate houses and design relevant course modules to fulfill the need.

The writer is professor, FORE School of Management, New Delhi